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Erik Fowle

Published on

February 9, 2023


email, marketing, marketing automation

Last time around we built an email marketing foundation. Define your goals, get a measurement framework going, start finding email lists. You lay that groundwork before you put pen to paper. That foundation props up everything you’ll do moving forward. And now that the proverbial concrete has set, you may be wondering, “How do I move forward?”

Can we interest you in some email marketing best practices to help you start crafting your strategy? Maybe some of these ideas can help you kickstart your email campaign and get you stepping in the right direction.

For best results, put in the oven at 350* and personalize

Have you ever received an email that says, “Dear [First name, Last], can we interest you in …”? With personalization practices like that, chances are they most certainly cannot interest you in anything. What about the subject lines that call you by a different name? These interactions in real life would cause you to roll your eyes. Surely the same approach via email would elicit a similar reaction.

As marketers, the last thing we want is our audience rolling its eyes at us. To avoid this, personalize. Personalization increases click-through rates by orders of magnitude.¹ But before you add in someone’s correct name, think about taking personalization a step or two further, depending on the resources at your disposal.

Think about your target audience. Some industries target potential customers by their lifestyles, others by behavior or demographics.² What industry are you in? Can you extend your personalization a bit more, maybe by referencing the job role someone has or their lifestyle choices?

“Hey, John Doe, we hope the great outdoors has treated you well…” builds a much better connection than, “Hey, John, we’ve got bicycles on sale.” Let your subscribers know you know who they are, care about what makes them tick and are only sending them targeted emails because you think they’ll love what’s inside.

Blah sticker on graffiti wall

Related: What Is the Relationship Between Content Marketing and SEO? 

A/B testing turns your emails into actionable data points

It’s important to regularly test different elements of your emails, such as subject lines, headlines, and calls to action, to see what works best. Use A/B testing to compare the results of different versions and make changes based on what you learn.

The above example offers a great way to A/B test your email marketing subject lines and audience segmenting. Send some emails without segmenting your target audience and send some based on demographics or lifestyle or whatever segment you choose. See which version of your email campaign gets stronger results.

Do the same sort of testing over and over with subject lines and body copy and calls to action and even time of day or day of the week. The only way to use your measurement framework is by testing your results against different processes. And the only way to be successful with your email marketing campaigns long term is to be process-oriented.

Don’t phone this in; make your emails mobile-friendly

However unfortunate it may be, one thing is true of human behavior: we spend more and more time on our phones. Most internet traffic to retailers is on smartphones; however, conversion rates for customers on desktop is more than double that of mobile conversions.³

That’s not surprising. Think about how much easier it is to navigate a shopping cart or browse for products with multiple tabs on a bigger screen. Still, it would be a mistake to build email marketing campaigns that don’t work on mobile devices.

When you begin your email design, make a mobile-friendly version, using responsive design to ensure people can easily read and interact with your emails on their phones. Your goal is to capture as much of that ubiquitous mobile traffic as possible. If your email content doesn’t look good on that form factor, fuhgeddaboudit.

mail app notification

Related: How To Use Social Media Listening for Market Research

Give yourself a sound platform for success

There’s a lot going on here, from personalization to email design and testing all of your approaches. All of these email best practices require capturing data and analyzing that information with software.

Some people may not need their email marketing software to do that much. Maybe you only need a platform that connects to your CRM and you handle the rest. Maybe you need an all-in-one email marketing machine! Whatever the case, find the email marketing platform that fits your use case and don’t be swayed by the uber-expensive offerings if you don’t need all their bells and whistles.

Did a human write this? Does it matter? Automate where possible

Look, no matter how exciting email marketing campaigns are to design, let’s be honest. No one loves doing the tedium of sorting through segments or setting up the schedule. Help yourself out and automate what you can (and think about what sort of marketing automation features you’ll need from your email marketing platform). 

When you don’t have to think about email templates, email design, email timing or follow-up emails after purchases, you can spend your energy on the fun stuff, like writing welcome emails and dreaming up your next big campaign idea. And, hey, maybe you like the spreadsheets and organization factor of email marketing. Good news is now there’s AI to write your emails for you. Did a human write this blog post? Who knows.

The point remains: lots of tools are out there to help you automate what you don’t want to do and instead focus on boosting that open rate.

Create your own best practices

These email marketing best practices should help you go from your foundation to action. But take these as a mere suggestion. Come up with your own best practices as you go along and record them to help you hone your craft, tighten your strategy and get the results you need.

And check back here later. Whether you’re a novice email writer or a grizzled drip campaign vet, we’ve got you covered with Part 3 in our Email Marketing Series: The Three Cs of Email Copywriting.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Email Marketing Series:

Want some advice on more than just email marketing tips? Check out our other digital marketing services and reach out today!


  1. The Science Behind Email Click Through Rates 
  2. Digital Audience Trends and Predictions
  3. Desktop vs Mobile Conversion Rate
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